ZIMBABWE’S delicate power-sharing pact faces fresh obstacles after Zanu PF resolved to cling to 10 provincial governors’ posts and to revisit a clause in the agreement barring by-elections for a year.
On the other hand, the MDC also wants the deal altered to state that President Robert Mugabe would make appointments and important policy decisions only after agreement with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. In the current agreement, Mugabe only needs to consult the prime minister.
Another obstacle is the delay in gazetting Constitutional Amendment No19, which is necessary for the implementation of the pact.
The amendment would create the post of prime minister and deputy prime ministers and would expand the numbers of MPs in both the House of Assembly and Senate.
In terms of the law, a constitutional amendment should be gazetted and debated publicly for 30 days before it is introduced and passed by parliament. Mugabe would then sign it into law.
The unity government deal signed on September 15 is in limbo as a result of wrangling between Zanu PF and the MDC over the allocation of cabinet posts.
Zanu PF wants to retain control of the “key” ministries of Defence, Home Affairs, Finance and Foreign Affairs, a move the MDC-Tsvangirai has rejected saying it would reduce it to a junior partner in the unity government.
Tsvangirai’s party has since declared a deadlock and has communicated with the broker of the deal, former South African president Thabo Mbeki, Sadc and the African Union to intervene and resolve the impasse.
Impeccable sources in Zanu PF said the party’s central committee on September 17, two days after the power-sharing deal was inked, resolved that the 10 provincial governors appointed by Mugabe on August 29 should remain in office.
The central committee, the sources said, agreed that the issue of governors was not contained in the pact signed by Mugabe, Tsvangirai and the leader of the smaller formation of the MDC, Arthur Mutambara.
“It was agreed that there was no legal basis to remove some of the appointed governors and appoint MDC members to fill the posts,” a central committee member said. “The issue of governors is not part of the agreement and the MDC cannot demand even a single post.”
Nicholas Goche, a Zanu PF negotiator in the talks, told the party’s official mouthpiece, The Voice, last week that the party will not share the posts with the two MDC formations.
“As long as that issue (of governors) is not in the agreement, there is not any change that is going to be made in that respect,” Goche said. “All the provincial governors will execute their duties as they are mandated without any obstacle.”
He denied that some governors would be axed to make room for those to be appointed by the two MDC formations.
Zanu PF’s resolution on the governors, the sources said, would cause a battle with Tsvangirai, who insisted that the posts be distributed among the three parties based on the outcome of the March 29 harmonised elections.
Tsvangirai yesterday said the issue of governors was omitted from the agreement and the MDC informed Mbeki about it.
“We have not yet deliberated on the outstanding issue of the allocation of governors,” Tsvangirai told journalists at his Strathaven home in the capital. “This issue remains outstanding considering that as negotiating parties we agreed that the allocation of governors must be in the spirit of the result of the election on March 29.”
He added: “There is still an outstanding issue of omissions made in the signed agreement at the signing ceremony on September 15 that had been agreed and initialled by all parties when we signed the original agreement on September 11. We are assured that the facilitator will sort out this problem and provide an updated document to the general public.” Â
Sources said the central committee resolved that by-elections should be held whenever a parliamentary seat became vacant despite a clause in the power-sharing agreement that sought to block the polls.
The parties agreed on the clause after considering the divisiveness and confrontational nature of elections and also out of the need to allow the deal to take root.
The clause read: “Cognisant of the need to give our people some breathing space and a healing period, the parties hereby agree that for a period of 12 months from the date of signing of this agreement, should any electoral vacancy arise in respect of a local authority or parliamentary seat, for whatever reason, only the party holding that seat prior to the vacancy occurring shall be entitled to nominate and field a candidate to fill the seat subject to that party complying with the rules governing its internal democracy.”
Soon after resolving to have by-elections, Zanu PF immediately tasked its commissariat department to prepare for a by-election in Chegutu senatorial constituency vacated by Zanu PF member Edna Madzongwe after her election as President of the Senate.
Zanu is also preparing for by-elections in Matobo South and Guruve North House of Assembly constituencies. Matobo fell vacant after MDC member Lovemore Moyo was elected Speaker of the House of Assembly while Guruve North became vacant following the death of Zanu PF’s Cletus Mabharanga.Â Â
The sources said Zanu PF was confident that the two formations of the MDC would agree to scrap the clause.
“There was a strong feeling that the clause infringed on the right of individuals and political parties to elect leaders of their choice and contest elections,” a Zanu PF central committee member said. “There were fears that government will be taken to the Supreme Court and lose a constitutional challenge on the matter.”
Zanu PF was yet to engage the two MDC formations on the matter.
Sources in the MDC said the party wanted the unity government deal to be altered on the powers of the president.
The sources said the pact should state categorically that Mugabe would make key appointments only after agreeing with the prime minister.
“We want the word ‘consult’ in the agreement referring to Mugabe to be replaced by “agreeing”. Consulting means just that,” a senior member of the MDC said. “They (Mugabe and Tsvangirai) should agree on all key government appointments.”
The sources said there was potential for conflict on the issue because the MDC was now trying to reduce Mugabe’s powers.
More hurdles, the sources said, lay ahead of the implementation of the inclusive government.
Failure by Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara to appoint a cabinet after several rounds of talks, the sources said, has raised doubts over whether the power-sharing deal could stand the strain given the three rivals’ mistrust of each other.
By Constantine ChimakureÂ